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Christians in Chiapas Cut-off From Vital Resources; Acteal Prisoner Set Free

March 20, 2013 by Open Doors in Latin America/Caribbean


Open Doors has learned that in the community of La Piedad, Margaritas in Chiapas Mexico, evangelical Christians have decided to no longer pay dues for local pagan festivities. In response, the traditional authorities have denied the Christians access to water, firewood, health services and government support. Although a legal accusation has been made, one of the Christians could lose his home. They have asked that we join in prayer with them that the Lord will give them strength as they withstand the pressure from the traditional  authorities. Pray also for protection for their families, and that the Lord will touch the hearts of those who rise up against them.

On a more encouraging note, the Supreme Justice Court of the Nation ordered the immediate release on March 13th of Indian prisoner Marcos Arias Perez, one of those convicted for allegedly engaging in the slaughter in the Village of Acteal, Chiapas in 1997. His release was ordered following the court’s review of the recognition of innocence presented by Marcos’ defenders and fellow believers.

During a public meeting of this Official Board, a case was presented concerning the illegality of the evidence condemning the prisoner. Minister Jose Ramon Cossio Diaz dictated the recognition code of innocence against the judgment in which Marcos was accused of possession of a firearm without a license and possession of a weapon for exclusive use of the Armed Forces. Public documents were presented that invalidated the original arguments against the accused.

At the meeting, the statements of some witnesses were proven to be fabrications and, therefore, declared false evidence. The study additionally revealed that the documents used to convict Marcos Arias were illegal and his constitutional rights were violated during the process. This evidence constituted sufficient grounds for his immediate release.

Open Doors has worked on this case from the beginning both through direct appeals and work with various agencies. Fifteen years into his 35-year sentence, the tireless work to secure his release has finally resulted in the recognition of his innocence. Marcos and the Christian community in Chiapas thank God for His faithfulness, care and love for their brothers and their families who have faced seemingly endless months and years of constant struggle, prayer and care for the lives of those accused of the Acteal case. They also thank God for the support of Open Doors, lawyers and offices worldwide for all the work done and the prayers lifted up for the release of Marco; they gratefully implore us not to stop praying for the legal processes surrounding the remaining 17 imprisoned brothers.

In light of the evidence supporting Marcos’ release, the Supreme Court has decided to review the cases of the remaining 17 prisoners in a private session on March 14. We prayerfully await their decision.

Father, we thank and praise You for the release of Marcos Arias Perez. Strengthen him as he returns to his family after 15 years in prison. Protect him and strengthen his faith as he re-establishes his life there in the midst of hostility that remains. And we lift up Christians in La Piedad as they are cut off from many life necessities because of their desire to serve You in purity of worship. Provide for them in ways that show Your glory to them and to those around them. Give them strength, courage and wisdom in the coming weeks and months. May Your name be magnified in all of Chiapas, indeed all of Mexico. In the name of Jesus who is worthy of our praise and worship, Amen.

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